Friday, July 29, 2005

7 best books

Old editions of Readers' Digest used to carry really good stories, not like the present issues which carry stories like 'How to beat depression', 'How to spice up your sex life' etc. Agreed, a magazine needs to change with times and the times of today demand such topics to be highlighted upon. But at the same time, the charm that used to be associated with an old RD issue, thick and full of stories which could kindle anyone's imagination is missing nowadays.
The title of this blog is a direct rip off from a compilation of RD called "Readers' Digest: 7 best books". I chanced upon this at home while cleaning my grandfather's cupboard. This is a book which i will treasure over all Harrys, Aragorns, Holmes and the like.
Its a great joy to share such stories. You, my dear reader might know about these events, but lets spare a thought for those who might not know. Even if you do know, I suggest that you go ahead and try to get hold of this RD book (sources: (1) me, if u meet me in Bangalore (2) a lucky draw at ur local raddiwallah).

(1) The Lady with the Lamp: A delightful piece upon the life of Florence Nightingale. Not like the drab lessons we might have studied in school. (the worst example of a biographical torture that i can think of is the stories of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar...i used to have it alternately in English, kannada or Sanskrit every year till i finished my 12th.....I hope Maya memsaab is not reading this)....Coming back to the topic, this piece talks about Florence's life, how she was motivated to be a nurse, how she pioneered the hospital system in Crimea and the like

(2) The little black room: I do not remember this title all that well and neither do i remember the story exactly. Thats because my favourite character in the story gets killed while trying to defuse a bomb set by the IRA (Irish Republican Army)....I used to model my mannerisms on that character and reading about his death demoralised me so much that even now i haven't been able to reconcile myself to read that story objectively.

(3) A Pattern of Islands: This was a delightful piece about a young doctor (or was it an administrator?) and his wife who go to the carribean to serve the people there. Nothing much except for a nice travelogue on the customs, way of life etc

(4) Kon tiki: Most of you must have heard about this story of adventure and daring of 6 men: Thor Heyerdahl, Erik Hesselberg, Bengt Danielsson, Knut Haugland, Torstein Raaby and Herman Watzinger. It gets real personal and thats what a book is supposed to do

(5) Mt.Everest: This is a story with an Indian connection. Its narrated by Tenzing Norkey. It talks about his efforts to conquer Everest with many mountaineers until he finally tasted success with Edmund Hillary. An interesting book to say the least

(6) The sinking of the Bismarck: My personal favourite. This is about one of the greatest naval battles fought in the history of mankind. i rank it at the top followed by Nelson's victory at Trafalgar, the defeat of the Spanish Armada and Jutland (WW I). This is the story of the two heavy duty state of the art warships of the German navy at that time and the chase across the seas by the British fleet and finaly the sinking of the Bismarck.

(7) The Longest Day: This one is about D Day and Erwin Rommel's failure to anticipate the time and position of the attack/landing. Its about how the biggest invasion occured, what was the scenario behind that (on both allied and axis sides), what happened on ground that day etc. The lasting impression that you carry from this story is when Rommel says, 'How foolish of me, how foolish of me'.

Well, these were the 7 stories (aka books in RD terminology) that i wanted to blog about. But i cant help sneaking in another one about the 6 day war israel fought. facts like how farmers below the Golan burnt the fields to prevent the Syrian tanks from entering Israel, or the one wherein Israeli historians uncover some subterranean Biblical passages which helped the Israeli army capture an Egyptian division with the divisional commander in his underwear make for really good reading.

really, sometimes i wonder where such writing skill has disappeared nowadays.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Nari ka samman karo..mat uska apmaan karo!!

By now you must be acquainted with the title that Delhi has i.e "Rape Capital of India". Its a name tag which even the most die hard lover of Delhi cannot deny. What, with a rape a day being so common that it is shuffled to some obscure corner of the city page that only the sensational ones (sensationalism being defined by a very brutal/psychopathic injury or a unique modus operandi) get reported in the main news. The victims are mostly from the following categories: residents of slum clusters, college students and believe it or not minor girls.
Initially I had the thought that this too was like some of the one-off incidents that used to occur in bangalore. but soon faced with a deluge of such news, i had to do a quick rethink. the rapists also fit a common profile: they are either some petty gangsters who find their 'peace-time' outlets by unleashing sexual violence or they are people whom the victim knew pretty well.

Generally what I have observed is that a majority of the people here are perverted. They ogle at women and devour them with their eyes. (please note, this is very much different from the natural youthful curiosity towards the female of the species..don't confuse the two). Lewd comments being passed are very common. You will note this specially in buses. It stops at the stage of words and desires when the guy does not have the means to unleash his sexual urge. But imagine the same happening in the mind of a pervert who has the means, courage and the momentary lapse of reason to commit the act!!! Get the picture?

The reaction to this has been on expected lines..reactionary and as inhuman as the crime. Suggestions like castrate the rapist, ban the influx of migrants to the city, open a full fledged brothel on the lines of kamathipur (bombay) or Sona kachi (calcutta) have been floating around. and of course the opportunistic bastards, the Shiv Sena have issued statements like 'let the females not wear clothes other than the sari/salwar kameez'. my dear fellows, most of the atrocities have been on sari/salwaar clad females, please don't forget that.

My take on the issue is that none of these will be as effective as a moral overhaul of the society. More so an overhaul of the male half. As a society we need to grow up and move towards a state of mind wherein the female is not seen as an object of desire or someone whose function is to extend the family tree. Instead we need to adopt the thinking on the basis of "Ardhanaareeshwar" (the male and female halfs merged in one) form of Lord Shiva. The statement of that form is simple : "male is incomplete without the female and the female is incomplete without the male..each needs to respect the other...only then is a harmonious existence possible". Time for a few lesons in morals perhaps?

concluding remarks: i have used the case of delhi in particular because its the most visible face of the rape Demon in India. But there are other instances too where rape has been used as a weapon ex: the Gujarat riots, the partition, the Imrana case etc........
All our tech/cultural advancement will be brought to nought if the female half of our society is treated the way we are doing now. Initiative must come from within. This also applies to the women organisations like AIDWA which is mostly comprised of high society ladies who merely make speeches and organise protest marches on some days.
We also need to redefine our definition of progress of females. Just because there is a Sulajja Firodia Motwani or a Naina Kidwai occupying the CEO's post, it does not mean that the cause of women in India has improved. Its only when females like Imrana or the rape victims in Delhi are able to move about freely at any time of the day alone without any fear of being molested, thats when the lot of women would have improved.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hitler worship on Mount Road

Mount Road is the spinal cord of Madras (i don't like the new name Chennai). Madras as you know is one of the four metros in India, the others being Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta. Built by the British out of a fishing hamlet, it is one of those lovely places where you find tradition and modernity balancing each other perfectly. Kanjeevaram saree clad mamis in Ranganathar Theruvu (ranganathar road-> the road shown in the song 'Girlfriend', of the movie 'Boys'), jeans clad chicks on Besant nagar beach, the lovers at marina, bangy IITians shouting 'Yen Maga', the window shoppers and the credit card swipers at Spencers, the lovely Trisha, you will find them all here.
The incident which charecterises the title of this blog happened last Saturday ( July 2nd). I was on my 5th trip to Madras and my first to Spencer's Plaza. I don't know what has come over me nowadays. I go to check out the malls (and of course the maals in them) in whichever city I go. By far, Gurgaon wins hands down. The Spencer's Plaza is located on Mt. Road. But as I generally do, I located the side entrance (the sidey character that I am...just joking....I am as sweet as sugar comes) and was passing along the road when the picture of Hitler caught my eye. My head immediately went into a spin. I rubbed my eyes, pinched myself. 'Could this be true? Is the founder of the third reich, the bastard exterminator of Jews being potrayed in the heart of Madras?' was the first thing that caught my eye. Upon casting my eyes around the potrait, i also found the hated anticlockwise swastika, the symbol of the nazis and the words Heil Hitler. It was shocking to say the least. the beast who murdered millions and caused the biggest and most bloodiest war in the history of mankind was being openly paraded on the centrestage of Madras, the most tolerant city in India, the second most Anglicised city in India after bangalore (there will be a blog on this sometime in the future). If this had been Europe, the offender would have found himself behind bars.
The stain Hitler has caused upon germans is enormous. They are still derided as nazis in many parts of the world. the best example is during the 2002 Soccer world cup finals telecast on MG Road in bangalore. Chants of 'Go Nazi go' rent the air. such worship of such a beast and more so the open worship in a tolerant place like Madras is disturbing. it reflects the development of the ideology of hatred among people. More so, it is an insult to Germans in general.
At this juncture, people may ask me 'How is it that a guy paranoid about Germany should criticise the very person who gave Germany a sense of identity and enabled them to break free from the shackles of the Treaty of Versailles?'. My answer to this would be is that 'yes, I do admire Germany. I admire the Wehrmacht, the scientists and engineers who developed the Panzer, U Boats, the Stuka. I admire Germans like Otto von Bismarck and Erwin Rommel. Scum like Hitler, Ribbentrop, Reynard Heidrich,Hermann Goering, Goebbels et al should be confined to the dustbin of history and most important, their memory should never be recycled which is precisely what the Mount Road incident did. ' You may not appreciate my words but i earnestly request you to read books like 'The rise and the fall of the third reich' by William Shirer; 'The Scrouge of the swastika' which will leave a deep imprint of the horrors wrought on Europe by these vermin Nazis.
Think it over people, if this becomes a trend, then we surely are on a highway (nay flyway) to hell.
Coming to pleasant topics, I have a few blog topics in mind. One is definitely going to be on Deepika Padukone, my latest crush. the others could possibly be: into the mind of a frustu; a few effective habits of PJ masters and of course a derogatory article on my embattered and humiliated f(r)iends the BJP (i call them BaJji Party now, because like onion (vengayam) or mirchi (molagai) Bajji they are being devoured with great gusto although by themselves).
And a question to my readers? Do you think the amount of tamil that I am using in my blog needs to be cut down? i seem to have developed a sudden fetish for writing tamil words in English...Inspiration???? Trisha Krishnan..................

Friday, July 08, 2005

Vairamuthu's lyrics in Ayutha Ezhithu..specially Yakkai Thiri

This man is a genius when it comes to poetry. i realised the power of his lyrics when listening
to the tamil version of the song Fanaah (from the movie Yuva). each word is pregnant with
meaning. u need not be in love to feel the power.truly, pen is mightier than the sword. i have
tried my hand at dissecting the lyrics for those of you who do not know tamil. and those who
know, please correct me if i have made a mistake somewhere.
the best part of this song is the beautiful use of the urdu word Fanaah. I used to think that
fanaah was just some random chant. nopes people, its loaded with meaning..check the following
yes people its nirvana. and nirvana is what everyone is looking for in this world. from the
testosterone charged teenager who headbangs to led zep, to the middle aged family person who
looks for solace from family pressures in work and vice versa, to the tottering oldie who turns
to bhaja govindam, its nirvana that is the raison de etre. vairamuthu says that love leads one to
such an exalted state. now 'Dont u want somebody to love???'...;)
Now, to the lyrics. The translation is provided below each line.

fanaa....... fanaa.........

yaakkai thiri kaadhal sudar - anbae
"O love,The body is the wick and love is the flame,"

jeevan nadhi kaadhal kadal - nenjae
"My heart,Life is a river whilst love is the ocean"

piRavi pizhai kaadhal thirutham nenjae
"My heart,The sin of birth is rectified by love"

irudhayam kal kaadhal siRpam anbae
"o love, The heart is mere stone whilst love is the sculpture"

yaakai thiri kaadhal sudar - fanaa
"The body is the wick and love is the flame"

thoduvoam thodarvoam padarvoam maRavoam thuRavoam
"We will touch love, we will continue love, we will spread love, we will not forget love , we
will not renounce love"

thoduvoam thodarvoam padarvoam maRavoam iRavoam
"We will touch love, we will continue love, we will spread love, we will not forget love , we
will not die"

thoduvoam thodarvoam padarvoam maRavoam uRavoam
"We will touch love, we will continue love, we will spread love, we will not forget love , we
will develop relations"

jenmam vidhai, kaadhal pazham
"Birth is the seed love is the fruit"

loagam dhvaitham, kaadhal adhvaidham
"The world is dual, but love is non-dual"

sarvam soonyam kaadhal pinniyam
"everything is zero but love is infinite"

maanudam maayam kaadhal amaram
"humanity is an illusion while love is eternal"

ulagathin kaadhal ellaam ondrae ondrae adhu
"In this world, love is only one"

uLLangaL maaRi maaRi paayaNam poagum
"The bodies keep changing and go on far away journeys"

What interested me was the use of the words dwaitha and advaitha in the song. The dwaitha and advaitha concepts must be known to you from your social science textbooks in school.
Specifically i am referring to a chapter called Bhakthi and Sufi movement (that was what I was
taught). For the sake of continuity i will summarise these two schools of thought. The dwaitha
philosophy clearly stresses upon the duality of man and God. on the other hand, the advaitha
philosophy states that the finite and infinite (man and God) are one and the same except for a
screen of illusion separating them. For more info on such topics check out the following link
what does vairamuthu mean by saying that the world is dual but love is non-dual? my
interpretation is this: everything in this world has a dual. for example, male-female, fire-water
etc and the list goes on. on the other hand, love cannot be characterised as 'adjective' love.
(adjective can be anything, male/female/animal) A hidden attribute may also be that Vairamuthu is suggesting that love is divine/infinite too.

before i close this topic, let me just give u a list of tamil songs i feel are nice....
1) Endrendum Punnagai (Alaipayuthey) (the same as Humdum Suniyore in Saathiya)--> nice mix of techno beats and rap
2) Hey Goodbye nanba (Ayutha Ezhithu) (hindi equivalent=Hey Khudahafiz (Yuva))
3) Ale Ale (boys)
4) Ennaikonjam Matri (Kaaka kaaka)
5( Uyirin uyire (Kaaka Kaaka)--> racy beats
6) Haiyyo Pathikichu (Rhythm)--> sexy song, sexy singer (vasundhara Das), sexy artiste (ramya Krishnan)
7) Elangatru Veesude (Pithamagan) --> beautiful song
8) Chinna Chinnadai (mounam Pesiyathey)--> check the video of this if you want to see the tamil version of creed in 'my sacrifice'
9) Pachai Nirame (Alaipayuthey)--> melodious
10) Yaar Yaar Shivam (Anbe Shivam)

guess thats it for now folks...till the next time i get the inspiration to write, Shabba